The Fat Kid Inside Travels: Coron, Palawan. How to make lechon.
On our second day in Palawan, we wanted to celebrate my friend’s upcoming marriage in a festive way. So we thought, what is more festive in the Philippines than cooking a proper lechon. Problem was that we were in the middle of the sea, on a boat. So we asked the boat men if there were any local villages around; we got to this tiny island village after about an hour, the type of village that survives on its own with local trade and barter. We went around from house to house, looking for a live pig that we could buy. Eventually we found our man, that was selling a 45kg pig. A little big ( we were looking for about 25kgs) but we figured we could feed the boat men and the whoever the caretakers would be on whichever island we decided to stay on that night. The seller was more than happy to sell us his pig as this was a relatively big expense in the area. We kindly asked to proceed and kill the animal, after having selected it, at which point we gutted it and prepped it, before slinging it onto our boat.
Now a lot of people seemed outraged by us buying and killing a pig when i posted a picture of me stuffing the animal on instagram, calling me cruet and disgusting. To these people, especially if they are pork eaters, i say, don’t be hypocritical. If you eat pork, you know it comes from a pig, and the actual experience of killing one, will make you more grateful for the food you eat, because you understand that a life was taken for you to be able to sustain yourself. It’s the way the world works and how it’s been working for the longest time. So let’s not be squeamish about it. For those who are disgusted because they are vegetarian, well, you probably shouldn’t be reading this post in the first place.
Watch the video below to see how we prepped our Lechon. I also put a Lechon recipe and some instructions right after the video.
Personally, if i were to do this again, i would use a pig within the 25kgs to 35kgs range, it is much more manageable. After the pig has been cleaned and smoothed. Stuff it with lots of salt, pepper, crushed garlic, lemongrass, chilies, onions, and a bunch of fresh herbs (rosemary) if you have them. Cover the whole cavity with this spice mix and rub a little onto the skin. It’s hard to over season a pig, so be generous. Sow him up nice and tight (trussing needle or bamboo). Put in the rotisserie spit inside the pig from the back out the mouth. Prick the pig all over with a needle, just to puncture the skin. Rub it down with a mix of Oil, Rum, Beer and Sugar. That’s all we had, so that’s what we used as our basting liquid.
Now for the pit. Create a well about twice the size of the pig in the soil. Place two Y shape frames or cement blocks on either side of the pit, about the height of your knee, this will hold the spit. Make sure you have some sort of mechanism that will allow you to manually turn the spit as you cook it. On the Soil, if you have one, lay a metal sheet on the surface and top it off with some firewood and charcoal. Get the fire going and bring to braise. The heat should be coming from the sides and not the center, so disperse your charcoal accordingly. The heat your looking to get at pig height is about 130 celsius. Firmly secure the pig on the spit on the blocks.
The rule now is low and slow. Keep turning it slowly around, about 15-20 secs per revolution, keep an eye on the fire, you only want embers, try to keep it constant.
If you have a food thermometer, your internal meat should reach about 160 Fahrenheit. If you don’t, just do what we did, go by the rule of thumb that each 8 kgs needs to cook for about 1 hour. So if like us, you have a 45kgs pig, you will need to cook it for about 5 hours.
You will have biceps of steel after the cooking process.